Freeze looks to upgrade defense

K1F3_Ole_Miss_logo.jpegBy Parrish Alford

Daily Journal

OXFORD – It’s not exactly part of the plan that Fadol Brown miss a week of camp, but the Brown-out does give Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze a chance to look at another part of the plan.

Getting long and athletic at several positions on defense was a definite recruiting objective.

A transfer from Florida International, Brown is 6-foot-4, 280 pounds and doesn’t fit that description, but Marquis Haynes does.

So does Victor Evans, and so do Tee Shepard and others.

“Our goal was to get longer,” Freeze said. “If you compared us to the teams in our league, our kids played hard the first two years. We certainly made progress, but there’s something to be said for having some length and quickness on your defense.”

The others

Haynes, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound freshman from Jacksonville, Fla., played at prep school last season and enrolled at Ole Miss in time for spring drills. He had seven tackles and two sacks in the spring game.

Evans (6-4, 221) was a consensus three-star recruit out of Skyline High School in Dallas, which also produced redshirt freshman quarterback DeVante Kincade.

Shepard, once a five-star recruit and Notre Dame signee, is 6-foot-1. That makes him taller than a lot of cornerbacks, but not as tall as sophomore corner Derrick Jones.

C.J. Johnson, the Rebels’ best pass rusher in 2012, missed most of last season with injuries. He’s a solid 6-2, 225.

Brown is the team’s heaviest end.

Haynes was able to get his coaches’ attention on Thursday.

“He’s a tremendous athlete,” Freeze said.

His quickness helped him total 16 sacks and nine forced fumbles at Fork Union Military Academy last season. Haynes was rated the No. 6 overall prep school prospect by 247Sports.

“He’s swimming a little bit right now with all the installs, and now he’s learning a different position. Instead of the weak side he’s getting some at the strong end, and he’s getting some different looks over there. He’s making some mistakes, but he makes them at 100 miles an hour. We can live with that.”

parrish.alford@journalinc.com